LLLI and UNICEF
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 4, August-September 2005, p. 74.
LLLI is doing exciting work on the global scene, and that work includes collaborating with organizations such as the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), and UNICEF.
LLL Leaders from around the world are helping to implement this important work. LLLI work with UNICEF has included:
- Supporting UNICEF's unique role in breastfeeding and child survival;
- Partnering with UNICEF in poverty reduction through promotion of exclusive breastfeeding;
- Promoting the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF), especially in relation to mother-to-mother support and the Breastfeeding Friendly Hospital Initiative;
- Assisting families in emergency situations and providing breastfeeding information to organizations that work in emergency situations.
On June 7, 2005, I was privileged to travel to New York City and represent LLLI at a UNICEF meeting for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). There I met Ann Veneman, the new Executive Director of UNICEF, who came from employment with the US Department of Agriculture before being appointed to her current position.
LLLI representatives to UNICEF at the ensuing Executive Board (EB) Annual Session made important connections for LLLI with the delegates who were attending:
- EB members were reminded of the importance of breastfeeding (especially exclusive breastfeeding);
- The door was opened for LLLI to be a more consistent presence in the child survival discussion.
The UNICEF Executive Board is currently reviewing the UNICEF Medium-Term Strategic Plan 2006-09, that presents UNICEF's plans for the coming four years, how UNICEF proposes to make the plan happen, and the resources needed to get the job done. Although breastfeeding was mentioned in the previous document, it was omitted during the most recent four years. The Breastfeeding Advocacy Team (comprised of ILCA, LLLI, and WABA) is working closely with UNICEF staff for breastfeeding to again be included. Without the inclusion of breastfeeding in the document, UNICEF cannot spend funds on breastfeeding, so the work of the LLLI representatives and their colleagues in the Breastfeeding Advocacy Team is of critical importance.
LLLI, in collaboration with team members, is asking that the Health and Nutrition Strategy mention and support strategies and programs such as the WHO-UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, the WHO International Code of Marketing Breast Milk Substitutes (which was reconfirmed this year at the World Health Assembly), an expanded Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, and the HIV and Infant Feeding Framework for Priority Actions. In addition, we are requesting that the Health and Nutrition Strategy actively incorporate the partnership of ILCA, LLLI, WABA, the International Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, and the International Baby Food Action Network, recognizing these organizations as major International NGOs contributing to improvements in worldwide child health, nutrition, growth, and development.
A sixth of all children worldwide go to bed severely hungry, and there are just 10 years left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which include the Eradication of Extreme Poverty and Hunger and the Reduction of Child Mortality. More information on the Millennium Development Goals can be found at www.un.org/millenniumgoals. Many scientific publications provide documentation that supports our conclusion that early and exclusive breastfeeding could save the lives of 1.5 to 2 million children annually. I am proud that LLLI is taking a leadership role in promoting breastfeeding on an international scale. As Judy LeVan Fram, one of the LLL representatives to the United Nations, says, "The world always needs reminding...that breastfeeding needs to be promoted, protected, and supported across all societies with real resources."